If you ever book a Caribbean cruise, make sure that you do so outside of hurricane season. Either that, or be prepared with a ton of Dramamine tablets and Scopalamine patches. It seemed that not a night passed without a good storm to navigate through as well as sick passengers to tend to. My duties kept me running most nights between them. Days were packed with on-shore duties.
Life, like I said before, after that first night of seasickness, I became as one with the sea. I shed my sandals in favor of bare feet. I loved the feel of the wooden deck beneath my feet, although I will admit that it did get mighty hot during the day forcing me to keep moving. I had been issued deck shoes, but even the smallest ones in ships stores were still several sizes too large and created more of a hazard than a help. Until the new shoes the Quartermaster had ordered for me came in, I was granted permission to wear my sandals on duty. What I did off-duty was on me. Secretly, the danger appealed to me, after all, if I slipped into the sea then I could join my beloved, right?
The stormy nights were exhausting, even more so than the days filled with treating the Island Natives as we stopped at each port. Between nights at the helm and days on the Islands, I slept very little, and fitfully at best. When I laid down, my mind would replay the day. Surgeries were frequently a feature, usually accompanied by the patient’s screams. Babies crying was another matinee that always brought me to wakefulness with tears matting my eyes. I would curl and hold my stomach and cry for my beloved and all that he would never get to see. To make it worse, I sometimes felt the fluttering of life that came out of nowhere and froze me in my tracks.
Needless to say, between the sleep deprivation, the nightmares, and the constant work load both on and off the ship, I began to change. My body was gaining strength, physically. I was solid muscle now, being able to lift much more than before. My personality was changing perhaps the most. I was grouchy most of the time, and high-strung the rest. Worst of all, I began to sneak sips of the Sailmaker’s hooch just to calm down enough to do my duties. I was on a downward spiral of an eternal roller coaster with no uphill glide in sight. For the most part, I don’t think anyone really noticed.
The days began to drag one into the other. The same routine- work all day, work half the night, toss and turn for a few hours, repeat. Meanwhile, I was thankful for the absence of morning sickness. My body was slimmer, lean in the extreme. I’d lost so much weight that I’d had to order a new uniform from the Quartermaster who just laughed it off to life at sea.